AUTOTETHER – Wireless Kill Switch Lanyard, MOB System, Peace of Mind

I spend a great deal of time alone on the boat, and recently I’ve encountered big water and experienced concern about what could happen if I stumbled, or the boat pitched, and I went overboard. Unless I’d shut the boat off (in rough seas) or stayed at the helm with the lanyard attached to the kill switch and my wrist, the boat would continue on while I was left in the water, probably on auto pilot which I use often.  I began what I thought would be a long search for a wireless lanyard system.

Turns out it was a short search. It wasn’t long before I was directed to a video by the creator of Autotether  (very informative; see the “YouTube” video I’ve placed at the end of this article), and, after doing an online price comparison, I ordered the system from The GPS Store. It was the first time I’d dealt with The GPS Store, and I was very pleased with their customer service and prompt follow-through with my order. I learned less than a week after ordering the Autotether (it hadn’t arrived here yet) that the price on the unit had been reduced $15. One email to The GPS Store and they credited the difference to my card promptly and politely. I won’t hesitate to do business with these positive, competent people again in the future.

The Autotether was what I’d hoped it would be (and well-packaged) when it came, and I set about reading the installation instructions. When I did the installation tests before mounting the unit, I quickly discovered that, though the Autotether included a variety of ‘ends’ to fit most kill switches, none of them fit mine (twin Honda BF-150’s), and I was at a dead-end without an ‘end’ that would shut the boat off in an emergency.

When I contacted the offices of Autotether, the gentlemen there were most helpful. The first guy I spoke with listened to my problem, and suggested that, though it said “Honda” right on it, the kill switch for my Honda twin outboards was probably made by Mercury, and the Mercury ‘end’ in my Autotether box would need to be machined to work. He offered to do it, and said the part would be mailed the following Monday. It came by Wednesday and, with one additional e-mail to the guys at Autotether (in which I sought and received instructions for “cocking” the end), I completed the installation.

This past weekend, I had occasion to do a live test on the boat when it was on the water. The Autotether features a FOB that the skipper wears. If the FOB is submersed (presumedly because the skipper has gone into the water), the main unit is then ‘triggered’ and the cord to the ‘end’ is activated and the kill switch is turned off. I did the simulation and sure enough, the boat was stopped in the water and the alarm was blaring on the Autotether unit. I reset the main unit and proceeded with the reassurance that, if ever I was to go overboard while using this unit, the boat would be shut off and waiting for me just yards away.

You can add up to three (optional) man-overboard (MOB) FOB’s to the Autotether, too. These sound an alarm if someone wearing and active FOB goes overboard, but don’t disable the boat. Very reassuring for a busy skipper at the helm who can’t keep an eye on everyone on the vessel. And the unit comes with everything needed for installation, down to a compact philips screwdriver (for tuning the unit), spare velcro mounts and an alcohol wipe for preparing the surface. The only thing I added was a lanyard to suspend my skipper’s FOB from.

It’s gratifying that the Autotether is a quality product and the company takes their customer service seriously. I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful team to consult regarding my Autotether installation, and I had an excellent dealer in The GPS Store. Altogether a very positive experience!

Note: There is presently a company rebate of $25 if you purchase the Wireless Lanyard or The Screamer system by Autotether. See: http://www.autotether.com/at/Rebate-Form

Video: The “YouTube” video is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyuMgZWf3MY

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Nordic Tug 26 – A Tug For The Compact Yachtsman

Nordic Tug 26 exterior

One of the most captivating dreams I had when I was imagining owning a boat was centered around the Nordic Tug. There was a nicely-cared-for Nordic Tug (NT-37 I think) kept at the covered dock about a half-hour from my home, and (more often than I’d admit) I’d head out after work to respectfully peer into and on it and imagine having a Nordic Tug of my own. There was something about the way it was made, the quality of the vessel (before I was able to “gauge” such things), and the sense of the tough ‘little ship’ I could imagine it being. It even had the signature ‘smoke stack’!


When I could afford to get serious, I started looking at brokerage boats for sale, and learned more about (became obsessed about) trawlers. I was sure I’d like a trawler hull, and pretty sure I wanted a Nordic Tug. At one time or another, I was aboard a Nordic Tug NT-32, the NT-37, and the grandaddy of them all (before the NT-52 was introduced) the NT-42. One spring, I thought I was even going to be a Nordic Tug owner, but the engine had some survey problems and it turned out the owners hadn’t maintained it and the oil hadn’t been changed, or even kept up to level, for 7 years! What a shame.

My life took some ‘turns’ shortly thereafter, and there was some time where I was again dreaming about owning a boat instead of having one. I then became a fan of Nordhavn, Fleming, Selene, Defever and others, and by  the time I’d begun to refocus on acquiring a trawler, I’d given up my dreams of a Nordic Tug in favor or one day owning the Nordhavn N-55.

Nordic Tug 26 Salon

It was during this time when Lee Ann and I decided to celebrate our anniversary in Victoria, BC. It took us a day and two plane rides to get there, we got a room in the Empress Hotel, and we hurried down to the wharf on the beautiful Victoria waterfront to catch the sunset. There, with the orb settling into the western fog, and amid yachts of every type, was my first in-person look at the Nordic Tug NT-26, the smallest of the NT’s.

The ‘little red tug’ was in perfect condition, though probably 20+ years old and had been out of production for a long time. I thought I was headed toward a larger vessel at the time, but I remember several visits to that idyllic Nordic Tug, and one to meet it’s owners. The third morning I came down to the harborfront to find the Nordic Tug had slipped off into the morning mists and that there was a nice new Nordhavn N-47 in its berth, fresh from a coastal voyage north from Dana Point, California.

Fast forward to 2012, I’m in my second year of yacht ownership (and in love!) with my Rosborough RF-246, and the Nordic Tug 26 has become one of the most trumpeted compact yachts since it’s re-introduction by Nordic Tugs n 2009. It’s no wonder the NT-26 is so popular in this age of soaring gas prices, out-of-control trawler costs (Nordhavn wants $1,900,000 for the N-55 were were looking at; and that’s shy of commissioning!) and berth fees. A new NT-26 raised- pilot house trawler can be had for just under $200,000 and, for that, comes equipped for almost everything you’ll need to go cruising.

The first thing I noticed when walking around the NT-26 were the pilothouse doors. They are located directly to the starboard and port of the helm station, and are largely glass and thus transparent. Being a Rosborough RF-246 owner, I have become accustomed to the ventilation and easy deck access (and emergency egress) these doors represent, and I was glad to see another boat with this much-heralded and seldom seen (in vessels under 30’) feature.

Nordic Tug 26 cabin image

It soon became clear that each area of the boat was the product of much planning and forethought. Enter the NT-26 through the cockpit via the large swim platform and the centerline walk-through, and you find the galley to port complete with stainless steel sink and a matching range. A fridge and microwave oven are in the face of the galley counter, along with cabinets and drawers. To starboard is the dinette that converts to a berth if needed.

Forward and up a couple steps is the pilothouse on this “raised pilothouse trawler”, with helm seating built for two, is a nice helm and two doors for ventilation and deck access (mentioned above). Visibility is good all around with the use of the two aft windows, but not so great looking aft if a dinghy is stored above the salon area. The forward windows and the side doors (largely glass) provide excellent sight lines. I’d recommend the upgrade to opening/screened windows forward of each sliding door for ventilation. An overhead console for mounting VHF radios and a stereo is standard.

Nordic Tug 26 Exterior ship image

Beneath the pilothouse sole is the Cummins QSD 2.0 or the Yanmar 4 cyl. diesel engine that powers the NT-26. The engine, which is mated to Twin Disc reduction gear, is accessed by lifting the stairs from the salon to the pilothouse and through a removable panel in the pilothouse floor. Regarded as two of the finest engines on the market, the Cummins or Yanmar is good for years of dependable use at a scant 1 gallon per hour at economy speeds and 2 gallons per hour at cruise speeds of up to 9 knots.

Helm instrumentation includes the analog versions of the Cummins water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, voltmeter and tachometer with a digital gauge that reads fuel burn rates as well as oil pressure, water temperature and volts. There is a conveniently-positioned 12V fan on the helm opposite the chart table surface. The ergonomics of the helm, positioning of the wheel (in your choice of classic wood or stainless steel) and controls are pleasing, and there’s lots of room to place a plethora of aftermarket electronics.

Nordic Tug 26 forward cabin image

Stepping down two steps again and forward, the head is situated to starboard, hanging locker to port and the bedding accommodation forward. The double bed spans the forward-most cabin space at a diagonal angle from the head bulkhead to the left of the peak of the bow, leaving space for a comfortable, built-in, upholstered seat. There are two windows, one on either side of the sleeping cabin. I recommend the upgrade to opening/screened stainless steel port lights instead of the black plastic windows that come standard. An overhead hatch serves as an emergency egress point for the forward cabin as well as a moon roof and ventilation source. The head room is 6’0” in the sleeping cabin, while it is a more generous 6’ 4” in the salon and 6’ 2” in the NT-26’s pilothouse. For most people, this is more than adequate, but for we taller folks (I’m 6’4” tall) it is a consideration.

Overhead lighting throughout the interior is good, and the engine box even features an “engine room light”. I should mention that the ‘new’ NT-26 (vs. the old one made in the 80’s and 90’s) features an interior ‘liner’ designed to save money in the building process and therefore bring the finished price down to below $200k. The liner eliminates many man-hours from the building process and, with the inclusion of several inset plastic bins, the fiberglass, pre-fit liner doesn’t seem to have any drawback. The liner is bonded to both the hull and to the shoebox portion of the house by Nordic Tug. To get a look at the liner, just look beneath one of the dinette seats. You’ll find a storage bin set into a rectangular hole in the liner. There are holes and bins like this one under the other dining seat and the mattress in the vessel’s bed as well.

Nordic Tug 26 cabin image

Back outside, you can move forward from the amply outfitted cockpit (with two small tables mounted at angles on the aft, outboard corners) along either side of the house. The walkway is not and ‘even’ width here, as the salon is wider than the pilothouse. There are 1”, 316 stainless steel rails on the rooftops however, and the trip forward is brief. Here you’ll find a nice sitting area (the roof of the sleeping cabin) and adequate space to perform tasks with your ground tackle. Included with your boat is a 316 stainless steel Samson post and an anchor roller assembly. The boat does not include an anchor and rode however; they leave the choice of ground tackle up to you. The bow is protected by a hefty stainless 1” stainless steel railing, as is the cockpit. The signature “smoke stack” on the NT-26 is not used for exhaust (which is vented through the transom), but houses the boat’s radar reflector instead.

The NT-26 comes in Oyster (off white), but Nordic Tug offers it in several hull colors, including Flag Blue, Brick Red, Green, Black, Red, Blue and Storm Grey. Currently there are four custom interior color packages available as well. There is a long list of options on this boat that you’ll want to know well before placing an order. A Side Power bow thruster and the Lewmar windlass that Nordic Tug recommends come immediately to mind.

The NT-26 is trailerable, but requires a permit in most states because of it’s 9′ 11″ beam. Nordic Tug has succeeded in ‘bringing back’ the improved NT-26 at a price that will be hard to beat. The vessel is resplendent with all the characteristics, features and the looks that have made Nordic Tugs what they are: dependable, go-almost-anywhere, comfortable boats that have a great signature look and a long tradition of sea-going pride.

 

Photos courtesy of the mftrs. website: www.nordictugs.com

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AutoTether – An In-depth Review

COMING SOON! – We’ve purchased an AutoTether Wireless Lanyard System and will be installing it in ‘Kokomo’. The concerns about falling overboard are greatly lessened with the addition of this award-winning man-overboard device.

Details of the installation, the folks we ordered it from and the quality of the AutoTether system will be covered in an upcoming review article …

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DSC IS FREE! And it can save lives. Why not sign up NOW?

A re-print of an important article – Your delightful weekend cruise from Pt. Townsend, WA to Friday Harbor, WA is the San Juan has

turned to a nightmare. One minute you’re laughing at one of Hal’s out-of-date jokes – a fine example of Audrey’s famous Bloody Mary’s in one hand and the other draped across the helm – and the next you’re scrambling because the boat has hit something,  something big, and you’re not sure what damage it has done. It seems like a lot of time has passed before you have the presence of mind to look below and, upon opening the aft bilge hatch, you see that the ocean is pouring in. You can’t see them, but there are two long creases in the hull, about half its length, culminating in two jagged holes, about 4” wide each, forward of the prop.

Upon getting to your feet, you shade your eyes and take a look in your wake trail and see only pieces of gel coat and fiberglass floating in the disturbed water … no sign of the rocks. You’ll find them marked on your charts later. Only three minutes have passed since the jarring experience, but Audrey is already handing life vests to Hal and Linda, and hers is on. She has a fourth in her hand, and with a look of concern in her eyes, she holds it out for you and waits for your next instructions. The engine stalled following the collision, and there is now an eerie silence, with only the lapping of the waves against the windward hull and the unending gurgling from beneath the bilge.

Your mind turns briefly to the hours, weeks really, you have invested in this boat. The hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve spent, and the piece of yourself you’ve let it become. But your thoughts turn quickly to emergency procedures as the Rule bilge pump activates and starts pumping water overboard. The machinery weight of the engine and generator, along with four storage compartments full of boating supplies, are contributing to the added intake of water and, in only 5 minutes since the underwater collision, the boat is developing an aft and slightly portward list.

You are the captain, and the good folks on board are counting on you to have a plan; to have prepared for this. You have one, and the procedures come into focus as you get your wits about you. You tell Hal to go up top and release the tender from its mounts and tie downs, double check the lashing line and put it overboard. Everything goes into the tender except passengers, for now. The Abandon Ship, or “Ditch” bag, has all the emergency supplies in it, and it is lashed into a pre-determined position in the tender – which has become a lifeboat. You transfer the ship’s First Aid Kit and flares into the boat, and ask Audrey to gather water and packaged food.

The list is getting more critical now, and Hal, Linda and Audrey are on the aft deck, trying to remain calm. The tender is ready and you’ve seen to it that everyone is warmly dressed and is wearing their coats and hats in addition to life jackets. It’s 11 minutes post-event now, and you’d best not wait any longer to radio for help.

The boat came with a VHF radio, an older one, and other than using it to hailing radio for slips in harbors you visited, you haven’t used it much. Now you check that it’s on channel 16, the emergency channel, and press the PTT on the microphone. The gravity of your situation hits home as you hear yourself saying the words. over the din of the bilge alarm, “May Day, May Day, May Day … this is the motor trawler AUDREY C off the south corner of San Juan Island declaring an emergency … we’ve evidently hit a submerged rock and the boat is taking on water faster than we can pump it out.”

Less than 13 minutes into a boating emergency, your whole life has changed. You have no idea how far away help is … and you look out the window to see there’s a wind whipping up the sea that didn’t affect the comfort of your passengers in the heated cabin of the boat, but might be a real factor in an open tender at sea. Then a crackle and a response on the radio.

“Motor vessel AUDREY C, this is Coast Guard station Anacortes, please respond.” You do and shortly after you tell your story on the radio, you learn that no fewer than 7 vessels (5 pleasure boats, 1 fishing boat and a Coast Guard cutter that was cruising Thatcher Pass) have altered course in your general direction. You hadn’t been able to give precise latitude/longitude info to the coast guard because the battery was discharged on your hand-held GPS and you didn’t know where you were – or how to read latitude/longitude on the chart that was stuffed somewhere up near the helm. Looking outside, you gave landmark desciptions and rough distances – it was amazing how difficult it was to be accurate when you needed to – from each. The Coast Guard had asked you if your radio featured DSC, but not only did none of the buttons on your VHF say that, you didn’t know anything about it. “No, I don’t know what that is”, was your only answer.

With the aftward and portward list getting more severe, you explain what it’ll mean to abandon ship to the three frightened people gathered round the lashing line to the tender, reassure them that help is coming, and decide to take another look below. Though you can’t visualize where the water is coming in, you can reach into the depths of the bilge and feel along the hull for a hole. It only takes a minute to find the breaches, two holes of roughly the same size, with edges protruding inward. You call Audrey, who is nearby, and ask her for towels. She’s back in a moment, and you roll the towels as tightly as possible into roughly the size of the holes. Then, getting an angle on the hull breach, you force the rolled towels into the holes, stemming the gushing water and leaving only towel seepage. The pump rapidly expels the remaining water and, within another 10 minutes, you start to breathe more easily as your situation seems considerably better than it did 15 minutes before.

You look up from your position on the deck, and see two of the rescue boats on the horizon, and you realize that the emergency is over, and your passengers and yourself are going to be alright. As you keep an eye on the rolled towels as the fishing trawler tows you to his home port where his brother has a sling to take you out of the water and affect repairs, you find yourself thinking about latitude and longitude, and realizing that, in open water far from land (and landmarks) you wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone where you were.

The above story ended well, thankfully, but could just as easily have turned into a real disaster. What if there was a way that you could transmit a distress call with the push of a button that let all nearby vessels, and (most-importantly) the Coast Guard know you were in trouble? And what if that distress signal related your GPS position, critical ID information, vessel statistics, name, etc.? Well, there has been such a system for years and, although the Coast Guard has taken awhile to achieve a monitoring system that can reliably zero in on a boat in distress, that system is ready and operational, and the service is free and ready to use now. It’s called DSC, and it should be employed aboard every seagoing vessel in existence today.

All permanent VHF radios sold in the U.S. are now required to have DSC (Digital Selective Calling), which transmits a distress call with your boat’s ID and, if equipped, GPS coordinates (latitude & longitude) to the Coast Guard and other vessels with similar transceivers immediately. There’s a DSC button on VHF’s that allows you to declare an emergency with a single touch, an incredibly valuable feature in an emergency situation. This service is available on some hand-held and all permanent mounted VHF radios from all manufacturers.

To use DSC, you must have a MMSI (Marine Mobile Service Identity) number, and they are free and easy to get in the U.S., and only little more involved if you’re planning to travel internationally by boat. To get yours in the U.S., log onto the Boat U.S. site at www.boatus.com/mmsi. After completing the form, you’ll be issued a permanent MMSI number. That I.D. should be programmed into all the ship’s VHF’s (NOTE: Follow your instruction manual’s instructions carefully; most VHFs give you only one chance to input MMSI data), whether permanent or handheld. If you need to apply for a station license (planning to cruise internationally), the forms for that process are available at the Boat U.S. site listed above as well. If you (1) have a station license, or (2) plan to apply for a station license, you do not want to apply for the free Boat U.S. MMSI number.

If your VHF radio is an older one (that doesn’t feature DSC). you need to weigh having this free, potentially life-saving service vs. the expense of buying a new radio or handheld (note that handheld radios don’t have nearly the range of permanent mount units). For us, it’s a “no brainer” … having the reassurance of push button, instant notification of the Coast Guard and nearby boats in the critical minutes of an emergency, and not having to worry that you’ve related inaccurate GPS info, is too valuable to put a price on.

For more information regarding DSC and MMSI numbers, see the following sites:
www.boatus.com/mmsi
www.vhf-dsc.info
www.boatus.com/husick/c_dsc.asp
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/marine-VHF-radio

… and read the article on Ditch Bags on our Gear & Electronics page

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Honda Marine To Introduce Electronic Shifting/Throttle System

Honda Marine introduced today a plan to introduce a Honda branded electronic shift and throttle system for its popular V6 outboard engines. The new Honda in-cowl system will provide shift and throttle actuation within the current outboard cowling envelope for ease of use and an integrated design …

Read the complete coverage in the NEWS section

 

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The ALPHA-LIST – one inexpensive safety item every boat should feature …

There are many checklists that go through your mind when you’re preparing to take your yacht ‘out’, but I want to suggest that (if you don’t already have one) you create an “Alpha Checklist” for your vessel, and get in the habit of using it whenever there are passengers aboard.

What’s an Alpha Checklist? Is it the safety checklist (life vests, PLB, radios, etc.),  or the mechanical checklist (engine oil check, water pump, etc.), or maybe the prep-checklist that goes through your head whenever you leave the slip (blower, plugs, scuppers, bilge, etc.)? No, it’s a seldom written vital list of important things you should say to every passenger before every voyage.

The Alpha Checklist should be shared verbally, before you leave the slip, and each passenger should know where the written checklist is so that he/she may be able to refer to it during the voyage, or if you’re ‘not available’. Some savvy yachtsman may even make copies of the checklist and distribute them, so that each passenger has a copy on their person.

The Alpha Checklist has three primary (and multiple secondary) purposes. It lets passengers know: (1) where the boat’s emergency equipment is located and how to use it, (2) how to operate the vessel, radio, and emergency beacon in the event you are incapacitated, and (3) what to do in the event of fire, flooding and hull-breach.

The emergency plan detailed in your Alpha List may include role assignments in the event of an emergency, including who’s responsible for the ditch bag and critical supplies (water, food, etc.), assignment of a person to see that everyone has a life vest and that they’re put on correctly (children first), a radio operator (who’s responsible for interacting with the Coast Guard and rescue vessels as well as operation of the vessel’s EPIRB or PLB; usually the skipper), an individual in charge of weather exposure (blankets, coats, etc.), a person responsible for role-call (how many passengers are aboard and is everyone accounted for and assembled in the proper location) and an individual charged with getting the dinghy(s) or life raft(s) stocked, untethered and ready to launch. The roles can be assigned by simple numbers (that correspond to numbered roles on your Alpha Checklist), although if there are a lot of young children it’s sometimes helpful to have ‘titles’ for each duty.

On my boat, we adopted an Alpha Checklist on the first of this year that takes about 8 minutes to present verbally from start to finish. Additionally, I keep a laminated copy in an open-faced compartment near the radio. I had always mentioned where the life vests were, how to get to the ditch bag and pointed out the fire-extinguishing equipment, etc., but now I take the time (usually while the engines are warming up) to share all pertinent info, including the basics of VHF radio operation, with every person who voyages on “Kokomo”. The result has been that passengers (often beloved family and friends) feel much better briefed on the boat’s systems and their personal safety and I feel much better in the case of the skipper becoming incapacitated.

Take the time to add an Alpha Checklist (named this because it should be presented first!) to your boat’s inventory. You never know when it’ll be necessary for your passengers to be prepared for emergencies and – one thing’s for sure – you won’t want to be in the impossible position of trying to impart these points in an emergency situation.

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The Excitecat 810 – A 26-footer that breaks all the rules!

Excitecat 810

One cannot spend their time reviewing compact yachts and not be impressed by a catamaran that, while just 26.5 feet in length, features TWO private sleeping cabins and a FLY BRIDGE (in addition to a comfy interior helm station). If you did a double-take on that opening line, let me assure you that you’re not alone. Suitably stunned, I decided to look into the Excitecat 810 more thoroughly, and was more impressed each step of the way.

The Spanish-built (designed by Philipe Subrero) Excitecat 810 is an example of what can happen when every detail is thoughtfully planned out. The yacht isn’t trailerable (by conventional means) because it sports a beam measurement of 12.7 feet. But if you’re looking for something that looks good in your marina berth, and what may possibly be the ideal cruising yacht, this boat may offer more than any other 26-footer.

Board the Excitecat 810 via her swim platform and the convenient transom door on her port transom. You’ll be impressed (I promise) by the size of her cockpit (remember: a 12.7’ beam!). In the floor, you’ll find multiple storage compartments as well as large access doors to the twin Yanmar or Volvo Penta diesel engines. There is also a properly-ventilated propane locker and a hot/cold, freshwater shower located here.

A stainless steel yacht ladder with teak steps leading up to the fly bridge is to port and large, high railings lead forward on both sides of the boat  (starting just forward of the cockpit) to the large foredeck with the vessel’s ground tackle, including the windlass and anchor platform and a large space for relaxing/sunbathing atop the forecastle. Four translucent hatch covers are located in this area of the foredeck, but they are situated out of the way of working and sunbathing spaces.

A sliding door leads to the saloon, a light and airy interior space which features a spacious convertible lounge (3 double beds in a 26-footer!), a very compact but well equipped galley, a complete weather-sheltered helm station (to compliment the fly bridge, above), a comfortable head and shower (with sink, mirror and storage), and TWO (count them … 2!) forward double cabins. When one considers that the V-berth in a mono-hull is situated in a space that is approximately 6’ at the widest point, diminishing to about 18” at the bow, it’s no wonder that Subrero designed two cabins in this wide forward space. The sleeping accommodations (one facing longitudinally and one laterally) are quite spacious and include hanging lockers, shelf storage lights and electrical outlets for both cabins. There are overhead hatches in each cabin for natural light, ventilation, star watching and emergency egress. Water-view oval port holes are situated in the main hull (down low!) to provide a great view of the water and additional light.

Storage is well thought out, too. In addition to making use of every space opportunity in the interior of the 810, there are storage lockers on the foredeck (including a self-draining anchor locker with deck access), several lockers and shelf spaces in the cockpit, and several more on the fly bridge. Additional generous storage compartments are located forward in both hulls, accessed by the two forward most hatches in the foredeck. An organized yachtsman would find plenty of space onboard.

Tankage is adequate at 115 gallons of diesel, 26 gallons of water and 15 gallons in the holding tank. You have to give up something for the remarkable space on the vessel, and more fuel and water appear to be the victims. Just fill up the water tank every time you go for fuel, or consider a watermaker!

As for performance, the Excitecat 810 makes 18 knots at cruising speed (with Yanmar 160hp engines), so you can get anywhere you want quickly. Or, if you’re fuel-conservative, this boat sips diesel at about 6-7 knots. It drafts a mere 2.6’, so you can get into some of those choice anchorages that larger or deeper yachts can’t, and with the Excitecat’s exceptional onboard amenities, you may want to stay awhile.

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The Aylward 25 – A venerable, trailerable trawler from Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Aylward 25 Trawler

The morning was perfect. The sea was calm, There was just the lightest of breezes, the sun was coming up and the gas tank on my Rosborough RF-246 was full. I completed my pre-cruise checks, cast off of the La Conner guest pier (with the help of fellow yachtsmen), and made my way out into the Swinomish Channel, headed upstream (against the tide, that was moving fast in the other direction) toward the Hole In The Rock and the route to Saratoga Passage. Folks had told me the night before not to go until about noon due to the low tide at the “Hole” but I looked at their boats (averaging a draft of about 6’ I’d guess) and decided I would risk the rising tide (of 4’) with the Rosborough’s draft of 2’.
The trip through Washington’s upper Swinomish Channel was pretty, and we spotted a bald Eagle that stayed with us much of the morning. Sure enough, after passing through the Hole In The Rock (the semi-hidden southern entrance to the channel) we found a well-marked ribbon of water to the port side to which I kept religiously (had to reset the depth alarm to 4’) while slowing to ask after the five (5!) boats (3 sail and 2 powerboats) that were hard aground, leaning on their keels, to starboard. I estimated they’d be there for a good 4-5 hours before they floated free.

About an hour later, we made our way into the north entrance of Saratoga Passage with Oak Harbor Marina on the right beam, the town and unique marina of Coupeville at Penn Cove off the starboard bow in the distance, and only three other boats making their way south. Two of these were sailboats under power (because there wasn’t enough wind to fill their sails) and the third, I was excited to see, appeared to be my first sighting of another Rosborough RF-246. I estimated that he was doing about 9-10 knots and was at least three miles ahead of me, so I increased throttle to about 15 knots and set a course that would intersect with his. The twin Hondas 150’s quietly found their pace and the boat pushed forward to meet a sister ship.

It wasn’t until “Kokomo” had a little less than a mile between her and the other yacht that I could make out, through the binoculars, that she wasn’t a Rosborough. I had just set the binocs down on the helm when my VHF solved the mystery for me.

“This is ‘Rasbutin’, the Aylward 25 calling the vessel about a mile in our wake and about 15 degrees to port … Do you read?”, came the call. I responded, he slowed, and soon we were running abeam one another, introducing ourselves and admiring each other’s boats via an alternate VHF channel. Turns out the Aylward 25 is a ‘Rosborough-style’ boat built for the same compact yacht market, by a boatbuilder on the same island of Nova Scotia as the Rosborough plant.

Nova Trawler Company came close enough to the design of my “Rossi” that, from several miles away, I mistook their 25 trawler for a sistership. The Aylward has no forward doors, though, and the head on most boats is located port side, aft in the main cabin. That gives one a stand-up head, which is nice (I’ve seen a Rosborough 246 set up this way), but it impedes your sight line when you’re at the helm and takes away much of your galley space. I would opt for the more compact head in the v-berth, which is an option on the Aylward 25.

The boat was interesting, and I’ve since done some research into the line. Like Rosborough Boats, Nova Trawler Company makes a variety of ‘down east’ boats, and has done well for itself. The most famous of the Nova boats is the Monk 36 aft-cabin trawler, but the company builds an impressive fleet of ocean-going vessels from 25’ to 42’ as well as custom projects.

Nova saw that Rosborough was enjoying great success with it’s RF 246 design, and developed the Aylward 25 to fill the gap in their market for a trailerable, fully-equipped boat that took the sea well and was sufficiently outfitted for extended periods out on the water. They further designed it to take advantage of the economy and reliability of the Yanmar diesel engine, which is offered both as an inboard and an inboard/outboard stern drive. I’ve also found the vessel with a large outboard on a bracket/swim platform (not a hull extension), but the inboard diesel seems more popular with Aylward trawler owners.

Boarding the Aylward 25 through the cockpit, the door to the cabin is on the starboard side. Upon entry, the dinette is in front of you with the helm forward. When you’re done with the meal, the back rest of the forward dinette settee flips around to make up a comfortable double-wide helm seat. To the port side is the head, the compact galley (fridge is optional) and a navigators seat facing forward.

Moving forward and a couple steps down, through teak doors, and you’ll find yourself in the v-berth cabin. There is a shelf and hanging locker to port, and under-berth storage accessed through compartment doors to both port and starboard. The company says that tall and ‘heavy-set’ folks are well suited to the berths. A compartment door forward is a convenient way to reach the anchor chain locker. The teak, louvered doors and a matching overhead door between the v-berth cabin and main cabin provide both privacy and ventilation when closed, and the overhead hatch provides both ventilation and emergency egress. Two side windows provide ample natural light.

The Aylward 25’s cabin can be fitted with teak accents throughout, and the galley features two teak (louvered) doors. The head is spacious and is enclosed with a large, louvered teak door as well. A ‘shippy’ spoked ship’s wheel makes the inclined helm match the rest of the cabin nicely and provides a nautical flair.

The boat’s exterior design places a premium on low maintenance and safe operation. If you have the ever popular inboard diesel, you have an engine box that you can sit on, which is nice since it takes up a great deal of space in the cockpit. Overhead there is a partial overhang of the cabin roof, which is nice in bad weather. There’s ample space to walk forward on either side of the boat, stout stainless steel rails on the bow and a good place for your ground tackle forward.

Though I can’t help but compare the Aylward 25 to the Rosborough RF-246, the Nova boat is quite nice for what it is. But, despite it’s similar appearance, it’s not a Rosborough. If I didn’t own the Rossi (or better yet if I weren’t aware of its existence)  the Aylward 25 would be of great interest to me. But I have seen the Aylward billed as a “Rosborough-type” boat in several ads for used vessels, and I think that probably the company is trying to emulate the RF-246 in the similar hull designs. Rather than expounding the long list of differences in the boats, I choose to simply accredit my erroneous, long-distance identification of the boat as a ‘mis-identification’ and to recognize the Aylward 25 for the well-built, quality boat it is.

Photos courtesy of mftr website: www.novatrawler.com

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Marinalife Discount Program Expands …

Marinalife is pleased to announce the expansion of their Discount Program. Now, card holders have access to thousands of discounts and a streamlined way to search for these discounts by key word, city, state, body of water, and category …

Read about it in the NEWS …

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Kadey-Kroden Open House coming in Florida

Stuart, FL—Kadey-Krogen Yachts will host their annual spring Open House on March 3, 2012 at their headquarters in Stuart, Florida, offices located at 610 NW Dixie Highway … Read about it in the NEWS section

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